Gone the Revolution

The cafe worker spearheading planned strike action at Come the Revolution reports that the cafe has now been  closed down.


Anonymous said...

Jeez pick your battles. How can a strike at a cafe making zero money end any other way?

Danja said...

La petite mort.

kolp said...

How would you like this done to you, some spiteful pun making fun of your businesses' demise.

Anonymous said...

To be fair with the name they had they needed taking down a peg or two.

Anonymous said...

Kolp suggest you read an ex worker's facebook page...

Ta da said...

At least it was only a cafe...and not awhole country or somink..

Brockley Dogging Society said...

Looks like the revolution came prematurely?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to say it, but this saga sounds absurd enough to be a Monty Python sketch.

There is little point in pursuing these high minded labour principles in a small business that is barely viable. The fact is small businesses are run at the discretion of the owner. Ultimately they can decide to take their ball home and it is game over for everyone. That is what seems to have happened in this case.

Of course, you could all chip in and run it as a renegade workers co-operative.

Brockley Mikialiakhov said...

If a modern day Lenin had stood up and harangued me whilst I was eating my soup, I wouldn't have thought much of that sort of old vajazzle.

When the venue is called 'The Revolution is come', perhaps we could get back to our chess and ruminations.

Brockley Mikialikov said...

But but but there is something else to say, and that is that Anon 20:00 there are many walls about this place and that at the first sounds of gunfire that is not related to the drug trade you must cower before the approaching annhialation of your class.

And that goes for the other anons too.

The 'decent honet fayre' guy.

He's first.

another anon said...

this definitely has pythonesque overtones. i would be interested to know if the workers were being treated worse than at other cafes/chicken shops in the area though.

@brockley mikialikov

i thought that the 'decent honest fayre' campaign was all in favour of the working man and sticking it to anything new or fancy?

i lose track and stop caring sometimes

Anonymous said...

Coincidence the week in which the workers protest and the cafe is apparently closed...the PBP decide to publicise the occupation of properties in Crofton Park.

Just to prove the PBP isn't all about profit the phrase 'not enough surplus' is used.

Anonymous said...

Apparently last August Lewisham's Socialist Party held a meeting at the cafe....

"London youth erupt - Fight for jobs"

They also described 'Workfare' as slave labour, yet according to Matt Collins the cafe employed someone under the workfare scheme.

Anonymous said...

'How would you like this done to you, some spiteful pun making fun of your businesses' demise.'

But it wasn't really a 'business' was it? More a synthesis of vanity and stupidity masquerading as something forward moving and 'revolutionary'. The ahistorical idiocy of these people makes me rather sad, but at least they spilt the vote that could go to the even more silly Green Party, which is a wholly good thing.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line here is that the cafe was just not producing a surplus, despite all the hard work of those invoked, especially the hard working staff. The owner of the cafe,(not people before profit I might add) is just not able to sustain the continued losses. I understand the plan of the owner is to try and re-open but soley as an art centre, meeting space etc.

Westsider said...

It had been open less than a year right? How many startups make a profit in their first year? Virtually none. Most of them are still loss making until their second or third years. This is the reality of running a small business.

Maybe PBP (whose logo is still on the front of the cafe) should have thought about that before they launched their hubristic enterprise. And maybe they should think about the lessons they have learned before they lecture others on the evils of profit and private enterprise. It's hard to run a successful business. Profit is useful for making sustainable businesses that can pay their workers properly. And it's hard to make a profit when you're charging £1 for tea and crumpets.

Anonymous said...

Not sure that really the bottom line at all, and I think you know that.

Obviously if there is less money comming in than going out then it's days would be numbered. From what the employees seem to be saying its the way the staff were handled thats at issue. Whatever you think of the bussiness model, the POINT is were you victimising staff? Did you mislead them and exploit their good will? What separates this from the hundreads of sad but sometimes inevitable small business closure is the apparent breathtaking hypocrisy of the owners and the laughable attempts of the PBP top table to distance themselves from it.

That is the bottom line.

kolp said...

"People before profit" is an ideal within a slogan, a symbolic statement . In reality for a cafe to work, people and profit have to be balanced, working together not one before the other.

But it was not a "daft" idea.

Look at Ray's ideals for the cafe in this video. http://youtu.be/hd6ph4meY9s . It isn't something to be sneered at or mocked.

It's about creating a business liked and useful to people of the area, bringing much needed jobs and spurring micro enterprises. Not dissimiliar to Brockley Market in many ways.

Maybe a co-operative business model would have been a way keeping everyone happy,matching ideals with business reality.

Anonymous said...

Except brockley market works and people earn a living there. Ray has been a local conservative party chairman and a liberal democrat councilor. He likes being a big voice in a small pond. He has no guiding philosophy that I can see, unless you count naked opportunism and a narcissistic sense of importance as one. He's our own George Galloway.

Anonymous said...

How many more times? Come the Revolution cafe was not founded, funded, managed, run, or staffed by LPBP! An active member of LPBP, Ray Woolford is the owner funder and manager of the cafe. LPBP, like others community groups and campaigns, LPBP was supportive of the enterprise and promoted it.The bottom line is that it just did not just produce a surplus.

j Paxman said...

So back to the point. No one is arguing about the fact that closure may have been inevitable, miney un less than money out. Maths clsed it, not ideology. the question is about the alleged victimisation of the staff who tried to unionise. If thats true then either ray resigns or is removed from the PBP party or there is a tacit approval of his actions.

Are the staff misguided or lying? Or is mr woolford?

Anonymous said...

How about:

"Mungs before doggers before honest fare before Conway before TFL before Edelman before the sea container before the rehab clinic before Duke's before Top Chef before Broca before Costcutter before Haynes Park before Telegraph Hill before the Westside before Lou Baker before Catman before Headhunter before The Mung Bean Elite before The ramp-replacing-ramp before The Barge before Speedicars before The Wickham Arms before The Brockley Mess before pushchairs before Yummy Mummies before honest fare before artisan fare before Tesco before Lewisham before New Cross before The ELL before The London Overground before Mayor Bullock before people before profit"

I think it has a certain ring to it.

Anonymous said...

Looks like PBP has surfaced to put forward their side of the story...and have to say appear to sue emotional blackmail to avaid answering fundamental questions....

Fighting the Government and a Labour Administration intent on carrying through the savage cuts and the attacks on the poor, should be our focus...

Ray doesn't seem to get it...campaigning against 'savage cuts' whilst making savage cuts himself.

And who's to blame...none other than the government and opposition for making cuts to disablity payments and the poor could not afford to dine at the cafe.

Ray blames the economic climate..where has he been for the past 5 years?

Get the violins out.

A group of people who strongly protest against cuts because of lack of funds, see a venture with their ideals closed through lack of funds and expect sympathy.

Anonymous said...

I see a certain Estate Agent is quite happy to sell ex local authority houses for its own profit...


kolp said...

If Come the Revolution has been blessed with the same support as Brockley Market- positive publicity, and goodwill. I think it would still be around in original form.

Anonymous said...

I doubt there's anything on Brockley market that could be described as "before profit"

Tamsin said...

Agree with Kolp on support and postive publicity and goodwill. I hope if the concept revives it can be given a better chance - and not have people refusing to go in on principle.
Had an opportunity to speak to a friend who worked there over the weekend and what he said bore out my inkling that it was scuppered from within by a couple of members of staff who - after buying in to the concept of co-operative work at very low pay - then chose to object to that. I hope they like it on the dole queue where they have put themselves and (which is so unfair) their fellow workers.

Brockley Nick said...

@kolp - Brockley Market's "positive publicity and goodwill" didn't happen by magic. They achieved it themselves by coming up with a great product, working hard and kicking the hell out of the publicity.

Not that I accept your premise, but whose fault is it that CTR didn't get positive publicity and goodwill, do you think?

kolp said...

BM deserves the goodwill it gets. My argument is that CTR as a new business, and a social enterprise at that, one aiming to directly aid the local community didn't deserve the barely concealed negativity it got.

Compare the coverage for CTR as a business versus BM, on SEC.
SEC has a dedicated thread, lots of lovely images people praising it.

CTR you have the mod of Deptford saying that they won't go in.

Anonymous said...

So Tamsin you no doubt agree staff at the council should take low wages to prevent those services being cut or find themselves on the dole were they belong?

Despite the staff being on 'very low pay' and at least one being on workfare, they caused the cafe to go under?

If the PBP were in power no doubt the cafe would have become state owned and the public made to attend the cafe by closing its rivals.

Anonymous said...

kolp the staff of the cafe were disgruntled with the management, as Tamsin said they were on very low pay, which sounds explotive?

If as claimed the management did not provide contracts etc what confidence could anyone have the staff would be treated fairly if the cafe had been successful?

Brockley Nick said...

@Kolp - SEC is a very good case in point. All those lovely pictures about Brockley Market - who posted them? The guy who runs the market, who regularly updates that thread himself.

CTR never even joined SEC, so whose fault is that there are no lovely pictures?

SEC is just a platform for users to post whatever they like - it doesn't matter what the mod thinks.

And "goodwill" isn't magic. Brockley Market didn't get loads of goodwill because everyone liked the guy who started the market, it got loads of goodwill by being consistently great and working really, really hard to engage local people.

No-one objects to the stated ideals behind CTR, they just doubt the sincerity with which those values were held and the business model behind it.

There's no virtue in only charging £1 for a cup of tea and crumpet if that means you can't afford to pay your staff properly.

Tamsin said...

My recollection from the initial postings was that CTR was set up with the intention of providing cheap and (dare I say it) honest fare. The way Cafe Orange did - where you could get a cup of coffee, some biscuits and a glass of squash for the kids for less than a couple of quid. An issue when you are counting every penny. Cafe Orange managed it because they were primarily a training resource and funded as such. CTR hoped to manage by engaging staff who would accept the semi-volunteer ethos and low pay etc. that went with it. They failed because they did not have a decent business plan and a couple of staff members did not accept the way things were intended to work.

Where times are tight or things are tough for a specific business I agree it is a very hard call to make. At what point do you insist on either or your rights or an improvement in your own conditions as a worker knowing that in doing so you will pull the whole thing crashing down?

I was involved in the early 1990s when Lewisham playgroups were updating themselves and becoming "pre-schools" with an accreditation process and Ofsted on the horizon - quite a few of them had been unviable for years but had stumbled on because the workers loved what they did, knew that they were meeting a need and (being effectively also the management of the groups concerned) accepted being paid sporadically if at all. The borough co-ordinating body put a stop to this, re-jigging the way the grant was handled and taking over the pay-roll function, but quite a few pre-schools closed in the process, amid much acrimony and resentment.

kolp said...

Nick just as a point of order BM has a pinned thread on SEC. Which is very useful in keeping the market's profile up.
I'm not saying it's not deserved...
SEC helps those who help themselves. I understand that.

CTR offered £1 for tea & crumpets which (depending on quality) is a bargain, a loss leader designed to drive trade, but the discussions around this cafe weren't on food it was estate agent links...
Also Low pay; £30 for a 5 hr shift, is not great but not necessarily exploitative given it was social enterprise cafe. There was also a 10% discount, plus free meal, plus percentage of turn over as part of the package.

Look at the video I posted a link to, this cafe was about helping the local area.

Brockley Nick said...

@Kolp - hard to "pin" a thread that has not been created in the first place.

"CTR offered £1 for tea & crumpets which (depending on quality) is a bargain, a loss leader designed to drive trade,"

Loss leaders only work if you then have a way to make money out of the customers that come through the door. They either didn't have enough customers (bad product or bad marketing) or they didn't a way to make money out of those customers (bad business plan).

"but the discussions around this cafe weren't on food it was estate agent links..."

Well perhaps that's the inevitable consequence of starting a cafe in an estate agent (like Foxtons, only Foxtons don't charge for their coffee). But what did they do to encourage people to discuss their food and drink? What promotions did they Tweet about? What delicious food did they post pictures of on Facebook? What special offers did they post leaflets through people's doors about? What good food did they offer that others didn't?

"Also Low pay; £30 for a 5 hr shift, is not great but not necessarily exploitative given it was social enterprise cafe."

The fact that it's a "social enterprise" (a nebulous definition by the way) in no way excuses low pay and poor conditions - in fact, the opposite. Social enterprises don't exist to make profit, they do exist to create good jobs.

"There was also a 10% discount, plus free meal, plus percentage of turn over as part of the package."

I guess whether that represens a good deal is a matter for the staff and owners to decide amongst themselves.

"Look at the video I posted a link to, this cafe was about helping the local area."

So they say. All small businesses that open in this area make an important contribution to the area - adding local jobs, life and utility to our high streets, so long as they act legally and with consideration for the local community. So why is this to be treated any differently? Because of stated high ideals? What difference did those ideals make in practice?

kolp said...

Brockley Market has a thread that is 'stickied' at the the top of Brockley.

This is a fact.

Brockley Nick said...

Yes Kolp, an undeniable fact.

a) I'm just pointing out that I can only "sticky" threads that someone has created. I can't sticky a CTR thread if they don't bother to create one.

b) what about the other, more substantive issues?

Anonymous said...

Tamsin...from Matt Collins facebook page...

The first occasion we were given notice was in November/December, this was rescinded, but the terms worsened with drastic reduction in hours for some workers.

That indicates the staff already on 'very low pay' may have been paid by the hour and therefore could afford a reduction in hours?

Plus no apparent contract it sounds Dickension...the staff should be grateful they have a job and gratefully doff their hoodies.

From memory the unit was taken on a short lease with the possibility it could be demolished at a moments notice.

Also on the PBP website it states the wages were set at minimum levels, taking on 12 staff.

Did whoever set it up do any market research, consider outgoings comapred to income...or just open it and assumed the community would throw it a lifeline?

Serving the community is no excuse for 'very low pay', possible redundancy by text, lack of contracts etc.

To pretend it was not a buisness when the reason it was under threat of closure within 6 months was due to lack of profits...has to be a joke.

Anonymous said...

The PBP website states ALL staff were members of UNITE.

Letter from Ray Woolford, proprietor, to Matt Collins, Unite union representative:

Dear Matt,

Thank you for your Email.

Sadly the Cafe is Closing today, because it is not getting customers to cover the most basic cost. I am not Tescos, and so far have lost around £30.000, putting myself in debt, and if I was to carry on I would be putting the jobs at risk for Housemartins staff many of whom have been with me for 12 years.

We have asked other community groups to come forward with ideas for the space and for another charity or social enterprise to take it on.

Sadly, regardless how hard the staff work or how much effort we all put in, in the present economic environment a cafe aimed at the poorest members of our Community does not have a market. I had, and have no intention of turning it into a Posh cafe for trendies at the expense of the Community aspirations behind the project. We also need to take into account that the Owners of the Cafe could at any time ask us to leave and develop the site, which as a Commercial site, we would have very short notice to leave.

As one local Customer told me this week... They have taken away my disability payments and put me on Job seekers, cutting my weekly income by £120. I can hardly afford to pay my bills, and a trip to the cafe is a luxury I can no longer afford..................Fighting the Government and a Labour Administration intent on carrying through the savage cuts and the attacks on the poor, should be our focus, not seeking to undermine and leave a community with a negative impression of something we all tried so hard together to make work. Come the revolution was am amazing project that the staff should be justly proud of being part of.

Amina's work will go on. We tried to offer a real business and social alternative and we still have bids in to secure real long term jobs. You were present at the Convoy Wharf meeting when I called for the site to be used from Monday to train local people to have the skills and training to be the first people to be working on this development and to bring about real long term jobs with decent pay together with a long term future..Seeking to get real jobs for every one will continue, if we can find a away for the cafe to work in some shape or form, we will.

All the best.

Ray Woolford

Anonymous said...

"As one local Customer told me this week... They have taken away my disability payments and put me on Job seekers, cutting my weekly income by £120. I can hardly afford to pay my bills, and a trip to the cafe is a luxury I can no longer afford.................."

Oh what, just like the rest of us then? Sortof implies you should be seeking a job rather than watching Jeremy Kyle and The Daily Politics doesn't it?

kolp said...

Thanks for that contribution anon, it adds light to the discussion.

That line:

"I had, and have no intention of turning it into a Posh cafe for trendies at the expense of the Community aspirations behind the project."

Trendies are part of the community too. So I think it was a flaw to implicitly exclude them.

There's been a lot of criticism of Ray. I'll draw attention to his blog.

Look at Ray's post talking about the opening of the cafe.

Look at the way salad is spelt and the general grammar.


I'd agree with the statement that he probably tried to wing it (get things moving and sort as he went along), as expressed by the comment

"open it and assumed the community would throw it a lifeline?"

yes he was probably hoping that goodwill would see the business through.

I think if this business starts up again, Ray must get a media assistant to help him and if its not going to be a cooperative then he needs to beef up his HR skills or get someone in to do it.

kolp said...

"Serving the community is no excuse for 'very low pay',"

I'd take issue with that strident statement, there are people working in Crofton Park library on voluntary basis, ie free.

Anonymous said...

What has spelling to do with it? once again he's demonstrated that it's was not just a cafe with the childiss crack about 'trendies'. He's occupying the same ground as others on this blog who whine about the unwashed masses of Deptford. It was politically inspired first, designed to make a point on how things could be run. It failed, the workers or "people" felt that they were badly treated by the "mangement"

It was a nioce idea badly excecuted. It's not the customers fault for not 'supporting' it, no bussiness however worthy, is owed a living.

In the last ten years he's flipped from conservatives (a vice chairman no less) to Lib Dem to whatever the PBP are. He's an opportunist more concerned with boosting his own reputation. An Estate Agent campaining for People Before Profit? Please

Anonymous said...

Kolp, Betting Shops ain't exactly had a good response on this Blog, far worse than anything the cafe has faced...yet they manage to thrive and multiple.

The cafe was on New Cross Road, whoch has considerable footfall day, evening and night time.

OK the trendies from Goldsmith's were not welcome but what about all the other improverished students from the college?

I don't see a piddly little website having had a significant impact on the cafe...if it's customer based declined that's because customers did not return?

Surely the poor local community would have noticed the bargain fare and thronged on mass to the cafe, apparently they chose not to go there.

Either the proprieter of the cafe doesn't know the local community or the local community rejected its values and rather be in a betting shop.

Tamsin said...

Possibly not helped by some of the staff who sabotaged it from within not, apparently, being very good at their job - anecdotally 10 minutes to be given a cup of coffee and half an hour for a sandwich is not going to bring customers flocking back however cheap the coffee.

With any luck if the remaining staff who actually enjoyed working there can get together with the management (such as it is) and reformulate with a decent business plan and effective service the scheme can be reborn. And if they post on SLC is there a promise of a sticky pin?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like BS from both sides. Doubt there are amny people who know the actual story, perhaps even the protagonists.

Nice to see the other sideways dig at the locals who apparently have decided to spend their money in a betting shop rather than a cafe.

Perhpas there are somply too many cafes in the area, this one was perhpas not interesting enough for the 'trendies' but not sufficiently cheaper than the miriad greasy spoons. It's a cafe, thats all. No one goes to a cafe because of this weeks political afflilation of the owner.

Anonymous said...

I know the actual story - nobody has come close to it here - except Tamsin - who got close to the truth. If you want to find out from real people in a real situation go to a PBP meeting, there's one tonight, or continue with your fantasies on this blog.

Anonymous said...

What of you don't have the time or don't want to. You can post here without censorship? Posting on the PBP or the staffs blog is only preaching to the converted. I'm genuinely intrigued by the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 16:15

It has been repeatedly stated the cafe had nought to do with PBP, so why would we go to a PBP meeting to hear the real situation?

@Tasmin this wre supposedly trained staff. How in a co-operative could just a couple of bad eggs bring the whole enterprise down?

Tamsin said...

I don't know - I was just talking to one of the other workers. But it is easy enough to turn the atmosphere sufficiently poisonous to cause real damage (vide postings here about the staff attitudes in various resturants and shops) - particularly if the basic business premise is a bit rocky anyway.

Anonymous said...

If this was a pharmacy before would it have needed planning permission to become a cafe?

It was stated the building (listed?) was due to be demolished. An application was made last August to demolish the building (465-467 New Cross Road) but so far there doesn't appear to have been permission granted.

Danja said...


Interesting diversion - the architect of that scheme is the same as the architect of the "vomit block" (which is not to endorse the description, just being lazy which is err how names stick)

Danja said...

Yours was an interesting diversion. Mine was dull.

Anonymous said...

Something else I noticed a sign in the cafe window said it wanted part-time staff, with 3 shifts a day from 6am to 8pm, 7 days a week.

Might explain why they had 12 staff, were there no permanent staff?

If the unit didn't have planning approval how could it operate from 6am to 8pm legally?

Anonymous said...

Could a worker at this revolutionary cafe have been able to afford the rent PBP are charging the squatters?

Anyone know where the rent is going?

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